Parenting Without Power Struggles

Rebecca Harris, Early Education Writer   •   September 18, 2019

Parenting is hard for a lot of reasons. Other than the obvious - feeding them, bathing them, getting them to school on time, and generally just keeping them alive - establishing the power dynamic between you and your child can be a real challenge. Talking about parent-child power struggles may sound extreme, but this refers to things as small as your school drop-off or your bedtime routine.  Here are some tips to managing power between you and your child.

The first thing to keep in mind is that it is completely natural for children to test the boundaries of their parents' rules. They try to explore the limits of what they can get away with, but it is the parents' job to show them guidelines. Having boundaries of what your children can control is important in establishing a sense of independence in your child while also setting a strong dynamic in your relationship. Keeping this in mind will help you have patience when your child is testing limits.

Have clear and consistent guidelines for your child. They need to know exactly what is expected so they can make better choices. Clear expectations also give children a sense of security because these expectations are stable and consistent. There should also be clear rewards and consequences within the rules. If you try to negotiate or compromise on these expectations and guidelines, it complicates their view of how they should behave. Being absolutely clear with what's expected is key in establishing a healthy power dynamic between you and your child.

Tantrums are another natural part of a growing child's life. The best way to deal with them, especially in terms of avoiding a power struggle, is by not fearing the inevitable tantrum. We all know it's coming eventually, so we can plan out ways to better deal with them. As long as your child is safe in their environment while they are throwing a fit, try not to react to them. Any reaction is confirming to your child that their actions can elicit attention from you. If they aren't getting a reaction through tantrums, they are less likely to throw another one.

Overall, know that while it is completely natural for a child to test the boundaries their parents have set for them, keeping those boundaries necessary and clear is essential to avoiding a power struggle with your child. Staying consistent with their limits, their consequences, and their rewards establishes expectations and institutes a healthy, safe and secure relationship with your child and eliminates the possibility of a frustrating power struggle.